Sonny Corleone in Gaza
Exactly how much terrorist abuse is Israel expected to tolerate before fighting back? (Also, Phyllis Chesler: What's at Stake in Gaza)
January 5, 2009 - 5:22 am
“If you touch my sister again, I’ll kill you,” Sonny Corleone says after delivering a memorable beating to Carlo in The Godfather.
Sonny Corleone was on my mind Sunday morning after seeing a New York Times story about the rise of “dating abuse” among teenagers. In Rhode Island, schools are required to begin teaching in seventh grade about the dangers of such abuse, but my inner traditionalist wonders, whatever happened to brothers like Sonny?
My inner traditionalist also wonders why liberal Jews like Glenn Greenwald invariably disparage Israeli efforts to defend themselves against terrorism. Greenwald excoriated Michael Goldfarb of the Weekly Standard for an “excessive tribalistic identification” after Goldfarb pondered the ruthlessness with which the Israeli Air Force targeted Hamas leader Nizar Ghayan.
Greenwald is hardly alone among liberals in denouncing the Gaza campaign — Israel’s response to Hamas rocket and mortar attacks — as “disproportionate.” Yet what would a “proportionate” response look like? The denunciations would be no less vehement if Israel emulated Hamas and started lobbing shells haphazardly at Gaza on a tit-for-tat basis.
Random “proportionate” attacks, however, would do nothing in terms of dismantling the Hamas terrorist infrastructure, which is the avowed mission of Israel’s Gaza campaign. By going into Gaza in Sonny Corleone fashion, Israel aims to ensure that the Hamas attacks — as cowardly as Carlo’s battering of Sonny’s sister Connie — are permanently ended.
Of course, Hamas being Hamas, they will never stop trying to kill Jews. Fans of The Godfather will recall that Carlo, being Carlo, chose a coward’s revenge by betraying Sonny to rival mobsters, so that at last Michael Corleone assigned Clemenza to deal decisively with Carlo.
If this analogy can be stretched a bit more, then, where does Glenn Greenwald fit? He’s Connie pleading frantically on behalf of her abusive husband: “It was my fault! … I started a fight with him. … Sonny, please don’t do anything. Please don’t do anything.” This is what the Blame Israel First crowd always says whenever Israel responds to repeated attacks by striking back against the terrorists. Always the demand is that Israel should make concessions, always condemnation is reserved for Israel’s defenders who are, Greenwald assures us, “guilty of insufficiently weighing the deaths of Palestinian innocents.”
Innocent Israelis — like Shiri Negari, killed with 18 others in a 2002 suicide attack — are curiously invisible in the Greenwaldian discourse, as if in some metaphysical sense no Israeli could ever be truly innocent. No, in the eyes of the Blame Israel Firsters, all the bloodshed in the Promised Land ultimately is on the hands of the Jews. They have internalized the Hamas narrative of “Zionist imperialism,” in which the Jews deserve whatever evil befalls them, just as Connie believed she deserved to be beaten by Carlo.
Like flashback sequences in The Godfather II, arguments over the Middle East have a way of devolving into historical trips backward in a time machine. Back to the Oslo Accords in 1993, back to the Yom Kippur War in 1973 and the Six-Day War in 1967, back to the founding of Israel in 1948, back to the Balfour Declaration in 1917, back through the history of the Ottoman Empire and so on until finally one is confronted with Isaac and Ishmael. The conflict is so ancient that any talk of peace immediately calls to mind the words of the prophet Jeremiah denouncing those who say, “Peace, peace; when there is no peace.”
Hamas has never advocated peace, and has sabotaged every effort to broker a peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Indeed, Hamas reportedly responded to the Israeli attack on Gaza by rounding up their Fatah rivals and other suspected “collaborators,” Fatah having been guilty of complicity in peace talks with Israel.
Insofar as Hamas has any coherent political philosophy, that philosophy can be summed up in two words: Kill Jews. And anyone — Arab or Jew, Muslim or infidel — who opposes that genocidal objective must sooner or later become an enemy of Hamas. The only real question is how far Hamas should be allowed to pursue its objective before Israel responds, and how far Israel can go before it goes too far.
“How many missiles is Israel to suffer before it is warranted to defend its territory and its people?” R. Emmett Tyrrell wondered last week. “It is tragic that Palestinian civilians are dying, but Hamas locates its military installations and administrative facilities in civilian areas precisely to dissuade Israel from attacking Hamas as it insouciantly bombards Israel, its soldiers, and more frequently its civilians.”
Hunkered down amid their human shields, Hamas leaders seem determined to fight to the last Palestinian civilian. Nazir Ghayan, whose death provoked Michael Goldfarb’s ruminations on “ruthlessness,” had already sent his own son to die in a suicide attack, and appears to have intentionally kept his own family at hand so they could all die together in an Israeli airstrike.
Given the persistent fanaticism of the Hamas death cult, what are we to make of those who, like Newsweek columnist Aaron David Miller, proclaim that the solution is for Barack Obama to “get tough” with Israel? Perhaps they’re Tessio, who exposes himself as a traitor by proposing a meeting with Barzini. Or maybe they’re just weak and stupid like Fredo.
We can’t fast-forward to find out how the saga ends. For now, we can only watch as Hamas learns the timeless lesson: Don’t mess with Sonny Corleone’s sister.